When it comes to fitness, one of the things that always makes me give up over time is the inability to actually see progress. Not that I can’t drop 30 pounds if I try, but to feel as though that 30 pounds was something substantial can really give you that boost to continue on and lose the next 30.
Planning and tracking your fitness efforts is really the only way to get that feedback. You have to track the data every day so that you can see the big changes you’ve made over time. Here at MUO, we’ve focused plenty on fitness websites, fitness gadgets, and even fitness games to help get you motivated and out there working out every day.
The problem that I have isn’t so much getting motivated, it’s staying motivated. And unfortunately most of the websites and applications that I’ve tried over time always seem to fall short in one way or another. Some give you great workout tracking tools, but fall short when it comes to planning out your future workouts. Others give you the ability to monitor data from your fitness routines, but then don’t give you any decent tools to visualize that data over time.
Over the past six months I’ve got back into the mindset that if I don’t stay in shape right now, in my mid-thirties, it’ll take that much more effort later to get fit and toned. It’s hard enough in your thirties – but over those six months I’ve dropped thirty pounds, and so I started looking for a way to really start monitoring my daily fitness gains.
How JoT Can Help You Get Past a Fitness Plateau
The problem with the situation I’m now in is what many yo-yo dieters face – the initial loss can be a lot easier than the long-term loss. The human body tends to hit a point where it isn’t willing to give up any more fat or pounds, and you have to force it to surrender by kicking up your workout a notch. The problem? Well, if you aren’t tracking your workouts, how do you know how to kick it up a notch?
Luckily, I stumbled across an awesome free fitness resource called Journal of Training, or “JOT” for short. Sign-up is a one-page procedure that’ll take you under two minutes.
As you can see, some of your information will help JOT tailor the main interface to your needs – putting tools for certain types of workouts right at your fingertips. And yes, it asks you for your fuel efficiency, because JOT even has a module that will help you track your carbon footprint. Walk rather than drive, and you’ve not only improved your fitness but you’ve reduced your carbon footprint.
The main panel of your JOT dashboard has everything you need to access in one place. It includes workout recording, planning, and it even lets you track wear and tear on your sneakers – and you can schedule an alert for how many steps you want to take with those shoes before being alerted to purchase a new pair.
For runners, that’s actually an important thing, because the quality of your shoes and soles can make a huge difference to the quality of your run and the impact to your ankles, knees and hips.
When you’re ready to start either planning your workouts, or recording what you’ve done in a recent workout, just click on the “My Workouts” link in the top menu. To record a workout that you’ve just finished (or to plan a future workout), click on “Add a Workout“.
This is where the magic takes place. From this one data entry form, you can add information about any type of workout, whether it’s hiking, running, playing a sport or weight lifting. You just select the activity type from the dropdown, and fill in details like how many minutes you spent doing it, how much distance you covered, calories burned, and even the quality of the workout.
Here’s what the “Workouts” area looks after I’ve entered in workouts from the past week. This screen also doubles as the search window if you want to see past workouts, and it’s also where you can edit workout details, enter in what you ate on those days (if you want), and you can also enter in your health information like your heart rate, how you were feeling that day, and most important (to me anyway), your current weight on that day. This makes JOT also double as an awesome weight tracking tool.
Don’t want to take all of the time that’s required to enter individual workouts? You can also enter in an entire week’s worth of workouts in the weekly workout form. Just type in the workout description, the time that you worked out, and the distance if it applies. Within less than 5 minutes you can have all of your workouts logged.
JOT lets you graphically plot different elements of your workout over time, such as how much time you spent working out each day. I only have two days here so far, but as you can see JOT uses a bar graph to show you the daily totals.
My favorite part of this online service is the ability to plan out future workouts. All you have to do to make a workout a future one instead of a logged one is to click on the “Planned” save icon rather than the “Completed” saved icon when you’re in the workout entry form. Those planned workouts show up on your Workout page with a clock icon.
Speaking of icons, you can enter in health details by clicking on the heart icon, and what you ate that day by clicking on the fork and knife icon.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, other fitness sites or applications that I’ve tried never really had everything I wanted. They could track daily nutrition but not workouts, or they could track workouts but not weight. That’s one reason that I’m seriously blown away by JOT – they’ve thought of everything.
The health tracking page lets you enter in your weight for that day, % body fat, heart rates, blood pressure, and even some notes to describe how you felt that day. All of these details combined with logging what you ate can really help with understanding what activities and foods make you feel good, and which ones don’t.
Entering in your meals is just as easy and fast as entering in workouts. Just type in the time you ate, a quick description of what you ate, the amount, and most importantly how many calories were contained in the food. JOT does offer a nutritional lookup tool if you need it, but most of the time you can pretty much just look at the container of the food you ate and base the calories on that.
Another cool area – and another hidden secret to making some extra cash online by the way – is the Workout Plan Editor. This is where you can create a workout regimen, complete with a planned out schedule displayed in a calendar format. It shows what days to work out, what workouts to perform, and other details that can help you stick to the “program”. Best of all, once you’ve created the plan, it can help anyone stick to the program. So, for members, JOT has allowed the sale of these plans – a great way to earn some extra cash if you’re particularly good at coming up with workout programs that work.
As you can see, the JOT website covers nearly every aspect of health – from nutrition to exercise to health tracking. It isn’t easy to find fitness sites like this that cover everything – so I’m pretty psyched to use JOT as I enter into the final phase of my own workout/weight-loss program.
On top of cool features like “JOT Maps” and Reports, there is also a whole social networking aspect of the site to enjoy, with message boards and the ability to take part in JOT with friends. It really has everything you need to either get started with your workout routine, or to revitalize your weight-loss efforts.
Get started with JOT and let us know what you think of the website. Did you find some cool features that got you motivated to start working out again? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Yellow Dumbbells via Shutterstock